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Family in The One Day of the Year

            Traditional family ideals, including ones of the 1950's Australia, dictate the expected roles of different family members. However, this expectation is not assumed in all family dynamics. Alan Seymour's The One Day the Year (1958), explores the notion of stereotypical family roles in relation to the represented family in the drama. Hughie, arguably both an antagonist and a protagonist, is the educated son of ex war veteran Alf Cook. Due to a vast range of factors, Hughie becomes liberated and thus begins the deterioration of the traditional family stance. Seymour represents this challenging of established family dynamics through the concepts of educational background, Australian cultural identity and generational differences. Throughout the drama, all Seymour's characters discard this notion of traditional family roles with one possible exception in Hughie's mother, Dot. Seymour conveys these ideas through the employment of a range of dramatic techniques including stage directions, characterisation, dialogue and symbolism.
             Firstly, Seymour suggests that as intellect threatens to override family for the youth, Alf is becoming of a diminishing lack of importance in Hughie's life. "'No. No, let me. I c'n do yr shoes for you, can't I?' . . .'I don't like you doing that, Dad.' 'It's alright, it's all right, you get on with yr work.'" Through Seymour's use of dialogue, Alf is characterised as somewhat forlorn. He attempts to assume the role of the 'provider.' However, having someone clean Hughie's shoes for him is not essential and Seymour suggests that Alf may be becoming unnecessary to Hughie. He is unable to dominate his son in conventional ways socially – in relation to class – and intellectually, and instead resorts to providing his son in any way possible, even if it isn't necessary. This interaction between Hughie and Alf, serves as a microcosm for the entire play.

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